Stunted Experience

Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

Observation: The Lord in v. 1 had come to Abram to assure him that “I . . . am your very great reward.” Abram’s response was to ask how that was possible since Abram had no heir. When God had first called Abram to migrate to Canaan, God had promised that a great nation would come from Abram, and that “all peoples on the earth would be blessed by (Abram).” (V. 12:3) Since that original promise, life had moved on; Abram and Sarai had relocated to Egypt where he had become wealthy during Sarai’s season in Pharaoh’s harem. Then Abram and Lot had separated. Yet through all these lengthy days, Abram remained childless. Abram fought a war to rescue Lot and declined significant payment of worldly goods from the king of Sodom.

Application: To now hear God renew His promise to be Abram’s “very great reward” caused legitimate questions to arise for Abram. How could he be confident when he again heard God say that Abram’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars? What the story next says is key: “Abram believed God.”

Abram’s faith was not shaken by what he had not yet experienced. Apparently he was satisfied to know god’s character and to have experienced His faithfulness in the past. Because of that, Abram’s faith “was credited to him as righteousness.”

Jesus would later affirm a similar principle to Thomas, when He said that those who could believe without seeing are blessed.

This strikes to the heart of human disappointment in God. I may begin strong, full of confidence in God’s abilities and His unchanging character. But gradually, if a wise guard has not been set over my heart, I can begin to assess God not by who He is, but by my stunted experience of His performance in my behalf. God, whose character is healing (Jehovah Raphe) none-the-less did not perform according to my expectations for my wife. God, also known as provider (Jehovah-Jireah), seems to abandon in the midst of a well-conceived business plan. God, who has promised that He would bless righteousness to a rich panoply of future generations, can appear to have left bereft much-loved offspring in their darkest season. In all of this, I must remember: my experience does not have the authority to diminish God. When I evaluate Him based upon my experience rather than His immutable character, I will always be in error.

Prayer: Father, there are many things in my journey with You that I do not understand. Cause me, like Abram, to focus on what You have done and on what You are doing, that my own response to You may be credited to me as righteousness.

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